Auburn fires Gene Chizik after four years
Auburn informed Gene Chizik today that he would not be returning as head football coach next year. The Tigers, two years removed from winning the BCS National Championship, wrapped up a 3-9 (0-8 SEC) season in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, falling 49-0 to SEC Championship-bound Alabama.
"I am very grateful for the opportunity that I had during the last four seasons to serve as the head football coach at Auburn University," Chizik said in a statement. "I'm extremely disappointed with the way this season turned out and I apologize to the Auburn family and our team for what they have had to endure."
Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs also released a statement.
"While I am disappointed that Coach Chizik's career here has come to an end we will long cherish the memories of our first National Championship in 53 years," Jacobs said. "Gene and his staff will always be a part of the Auburn Family, and we wish them and their families the best."
Auburn has announced a 'Head Football Coach Search Committee' that consists of Heisman Trophy winners Pat Sullivan and Bo Jackson and former CEO of Caremark, Mac Crawford.
The Auburn athletic department said the total buyout for Chizik and his nine full-time assistants is $11.09 million. Six assistant coaches will be paid the remainder of their 2012-13 contracts in equal monthly installments until its conclusion on June 30, 2013. Three coaches - Brian VanGorder, Scot Loeffler and Trooper Taylor - have contracts that expire on June 30, 2014. They will be paid in equal installments over the next 18 months. Chizik's buyout will be paid in monthly installments through four fiscal years concluding in 2015-16. All buyout figures could decrease with future employment.
Previously the head coach at Iowa State where he went 5-19 over two seasons, Chizik was hired to little fanfare as Tommy Tuberville's replacement following the 2008 season. In what became an iconic moment for disgruntled fans everywhere, a lone heckler met Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs at the airport following the hire saying, "Five and 19! Five and 19 is not what we need! ... We want a leader, not a loser."
Improving on Tuberville's final season, Auburn went 8-5 with an Outback Bowl win over Northwestern in Chizik's first season. Cam Newton and the 2010 squad went 14-0 and won a bushel of national and SEC championships and awards, including several coach of the year honors. Last season, Auburn again went 8-5, winning the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Virginia. Chizik's overall record at Auburn was 33-19 and 15-17 in the SEC.
The firing of Chizik marked the quickest dismissal of a national championship winning coach in modern history and the 3-9 record two years removed from the title is the sharpest turnaround since the AP began its first college football poll in 1936.